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Meet the Maker: Folkglory

We spoke to Salua Qidan, founder of Folkglory, about their embroidery kits which are available to buy in the Kettle’s Yard Shop. Click here to browse Folkglory embroidery kits.

Tell us about Folkglory

Folkglory is an invitation to a journey of exploration and appreciation of the glorious folk craft traditions of the Levant. It is all about accessible contemporary products for heritage education and traditional craft enthusiasts.

In 2021 I founded Folkglory, inspired by my heritage journey which began 15 years ago when I started working with Widad Kawar, the leading collector and authority on the heritage of Palestinian and Arab dressmaking.

Blending original research, curation, documentation, and product development, Folkglory aims at spreading the indigenous knowledge and skills embedded in the Levant’s rich dressmaking traditions to a global audience through hands-on DIY products. Folkglory’s first collection of embroidery kits was launched in 2021.

Folkglory was founded with the assistance of Adeela Subuh, an embroiderer artisan with 35 years of experience in the indigenous ways of Palestinian embroidery.

Tell us more about your studio and your ways of working 

Our embroidery kits go through multiple stages of development.

Selection of the region for a kit

Each Folkglory embroidery kit is designed with the goal to carry the authentic identity of the embroidery style and patterns of the costumes worn in a certain region. Achieving that requires research of physical and written sources.

Pattern study and research

Each village, for example in Palestine, has a unique identity for its dress, with fabrics, fashion style, embroidery styles, colors, and patterns differing from village to village. To capture the unique style of a region in an embroidery kit, all of the pattern designs featured in it are a result of research and documentation of the authentic costume collection at the Tiraz – Widad Kawar Home of Arab dress Museum — as well as books, and my own private collection.

Hundreds of garments and pieces from a region are thoroughly studied and compared before the patterns are documented. Sometimes our research is supplemented by visits to elderly ladies, who have witnessed the traditions first hand or learned them from their mothers, to gain additional insight.

Designing the kit’s heritage brochure

Specific brochures with a full display of the origin and patterns of costumes selected are designed. These brochures are concise, accessible introductions to the heritage of a specific town, village or region. Historical examples of the dresses that inspired the kit are shown and the patterns are named and explained.

Creating a stitch manual

Each featured pattern gets re-embroidered step by step as prototypes and photographed to be included in the stich manuals we include in our kits.

Assembling of the kits

Each kit consists of 3 brochures, approximately 10 pattern cards, canvases, embroidery threads, needles, frame cards, and envelopes. The colours of cards and embroidery canvases match the colours of the old dress of that area. For example, the Syrian Qalamon dress was red so its canvas and frames are red. For Gaza, blue; for Ramallah, white and so on.

Our sourcing of high quality materials, such as threads, canvas and their preparation in the right quantities and sizes, makes it easier for our customers to get started in their embroidery journey. Our kits are all printed, manufactured and assembled locally in Jordan.

Sometimes our research is supplemented by visits to elderly ladies, who have witnessed the traditions first hand or learned them from their mothers, to gain additional insight.

What inspires the designs on your embroidery kits?

The old embellishments of Levantine costumes with their breathtaking unique designs which were created by rural inhabitants who lived in Palestine, Jordan, and Syria hundreds of years ago.

What is your favourite thing about creating embroidery kits? 

Creating the visual design language of the kits. How the patterns correspond with each other and how to play around with them to create combinations. It is fascinating to distill the glorious folk traditions of a specific region into a contemporary designed and branded products that can be purchased by anyone on the planet. My mentor Widad Kawar calls Folkglory the “boxes project” and indeed it is a thrill, and a responsibility, to distil the vast tradition of our land into boxes that carry the soul and the craft of Levantine dressmaking to the world.

Do you have a favourite work of embroidery you’d like to highlight, historic or contemporary?

My favourite work of embroidery are the historic dresses from the Gaza region in Palestine. Their choice of colours, which starts from having pink/green/blue striped fabrics to the cut of the dress, then the choice of their embroidery colour and usage of patterns is pure art in my eyes.

Also, what I admire is the finesse of the details of historic work which is impossible to copy nowadays, taking into consideration the limitation of availability of colours and materials in the past. It is truly an art born from intuition and constraints.